Flames 4, Canucks 1 post-game embers: Happy holidays from your captain

And you thought the Calgary Flames were bad on the second of a back-to-back against a clearly superior opponent?

Total domination

The Canucks may have taken the early lead, but it was off of a total fluke goal. Though Brian Elliott really didn’t have to do much all night – he only faced 14 shots, one of which just went flying in above him out of nowhere – he was strong on the night.

And it was his teammates limiting the number of shots he had to face, period. The Flames, in all situations, out-corsied the Canucks 65-37, outshot them 37-14, and out-chanced them 38-14. And this was throughout the entire game, although score effects did creep in during the third period and hit their 5v5 numbers.

But that was so inconsequential in this one. Vancouver was never, at any point, in it. Even when the Flames got smoked against the Sharks in their own second of a back-to-back earlier in the week, they at least hung around throughout the entire first period; the Canucks didn’t even have that much going from them. 

They were crushed from the start, no mercy. Via HockeyStats.ca:


At the very least, I would hope that inspires some confidence. The Flames are still progressing in their rebuild, yes, but they definitely aren’t “worst team in the NHL” bad.

The hero of the holidays

The past two years, right before the holiday break, Johnny Gaudreau was the hero. First, he scored a hat trick to singlehandedly drag the Flames up from a 3-0 deficit; then, he scored a less-dramatic hat trick, but still a hat trick all the same.

Before Gaudreau came around, the Flames had to end their pre-holiday break with this guy playing the hero.

Wow, Backlund’s hair was way longer back then.

Giordano both opened the scoring and subsequently teased us with the idea of his first career hat trick throughout the night. It wasn’t to be, and he had to settle for merely the fourth two-goal game of his career, but he had a lot of chances.

Giordano wasn’t the only Flame to have a multi-point night; Michael Frolik, and Dougie Hamilton had two points each, too, while Mikael Backlund had a three-point game.

Just to take quick stock of the Flames’ scoring stats: Hamilton has now tied Sean Monahan for second in team scoring with 20 points each, six points up on Giordano, the Flames’ second-highest scoring defender. (Oh, and how good was Hamilton on the backcheck on Giordano’s first goal? That was awesome.) Backlund (and Matthew Tkachuk) are tied for fourth with 19 points each, while Frolik snapped a nine-game pointless drought to tie Troy Brouwer and Sam Bennett with 17.

There haven’t been any real stars when it comes to putting up points, just a lot of team efforts. The Flames are inching closer to the middle of the pack in league standings for goals per game.

Gaudreau was unlucky to not score

All that said, Gaudreau still leads the Flames in scoring – just not by that great a gap. He probably would have increased it last night had he been just a tad luckier.

Gaudreau led the charge from the get-go, and had enough chances that he probably could have gotten another hat trick had anything gone in for him. Although that one wide open missed net in the first period was probably the most painful missed opportunity, in part because the Flames were still down 1-0 and even though they were clearly outplaying their opponent, sometimes nonsense just happens in hockey, and in part because come on, dude.

It’s still notable, though, that on a night with quite a few multi-point players, Gaudreau was just as noticeable as the rest of them – even without picking up a single point of his own.

He got double shifted thanks to Troy Brouwer’s injury, sharing the ice with his usual linemates in Bennett and Alex Chiasson, plus a fair amount of time with Monahan and Micheal Ferland, too.

Considering how both Bennett and Monahan feel like plausible options to be his centre, it’s probably worth noting – at least in this game – that he had the better corsi alongside Bennett with fewer offensive zone starts. Buyer beware of small sample size, but still worth nothing from a single-game perspective.

That other hotshot young forward, though…

Five teams had the chance to draft Tkachuk before he fell to the Flames.

I think we can forgive Toronto and Winnipeg for saying thanks but no thanks; that seems to be working out for them. The others, though?

At least in the lead up to the game there was a fair amount of talk about how Tkachuk fell into the Canucks’ laps, only for them to take his junior teammate in Olli Juolevi instead. Reportedly, they didn’t really consider Tkachuk much of an option for them at all. And that’s fine – not every big forward is going to turn into, say, Jake Virtanen – but what a night for Tkachuk to show what he can do.

He scored the empty netter to seal the victory, he led the way with five shots on net, and in general created total havoc for the Canucks. He didn’t even get to pick up a point on Backlund’s goal, which is a shame, because seriously, let’s watch that entire sequence again.

What an ass.

He’s sixth in league-wide rookie scoring now, too. 

Break time

The Flames enter the holiday break with a 18-16-2 record. That’s just barely above .500, which isn’t an impressive marker in this league, but at least they’re at that much – especially considering their start to the season.

They aren’t technically a playoff team, but they’re as close as they can get without it, directly behind Nashville in points percentage: .530 for the Preds, .528 for the Flames.

Still lots of season to be played.

  • freethe flames

    Watched bits an pieces of the game. Here are my thoughts: Tspoon looked sound and should get some more games[he was better than JJ the last few games]. Elliotte made the saves he needed to especially in the third. Backs/Tkachcuk/Frolik are an awesome line; they compliment each others games so well. Bennett seems to have lost his snarl/edge; he’s playing with Johnny and still not producing. Don’t blame Chiasson as he is not the problem.

    Never want to see a guy get hurt so I hope Brouwer is okay; but every injury is someone else’s opportunity. I wonder who they will bring up; maybe no one as they are sitting with two extra forwards.

    • _vntony

      I too am disappointed by how Bennett’s been playing this season. Like you mentioned there’s almost no edge to his game it seems this season.
      Last season he was flying every time he was on the ice but now he looks almost invisible out there.
      You would think playing him with a creative winger like Gaudreau could get him going, but so far I have not been impressed by his play. He’s not a possession worldbeater, he’s not generating many shots on goal, and of course he’s not putting up the points.

      Under Hartley, everyone (including myself) blames his usage and ice time. He was given poor linemates and 4th line duties. This year however, with the new coaches and system, he was given every opportunity this season to take the 2nd line centre role and run with it.

      And I don’t know if Chiasson is the problem or not..

      I really do have high hopes for the kid! I still believe he has the potential to be the best draftee from his class. But right now, there’s no denying Draisaitl up north and Ekblad are superior players to Bennett. Now I do realize he’s still very young and has yet to reach his potential/ceiling. But if he’s supposed to be this generations Doug Gilmour, it’s not looking good..

      Hope he can find his game post christmas break!

      • Xcameron

        Not in agreement here. Bennett is tied for 6th in team scoring but only 3 points behind second. On top of that he is 4th in hits on the team behind Brouwer, Ferland and Engelland. I think that’s still pretty good for a 20 year old. I’d like to see more too, but I think the signs of the future are there.

      • Byron Bader

        Hard to replicate a hall of famer like Gilmour. But Gilmour didn’t turn into a massive offensive talent until he was 22. Back in the 80s a lot of guys wernt drafted until their 19 yo year (including Gilmour) and he went back for another year of junior after that. While Bennett is technically in his 3rd year … Gilmour was just starting his nhl career now.

        24 year old Bennett will hopefully be a force. Maybe not Gilmour type force but a force.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Considering that neither Johnny (lately) nor Bennett are producing much with Chaisson on RW, it’s a little naive to say that Chaisson isn’t part of the problem. He played RW with Monahan and Johnny and the line didn’t do a lot.

      There is nothing wrong with using Chaisson as a 3rd or 4th line RW, but he is not top 6. Versteeg would be a better match. Or make a trade for a RW that fits the age and skill requirements.

      I may be one of the few, but I think Tkachuk would benefit greatly from playing with an offensive line. Play him with Bennett or Monahan. FInd the correct RW for those two lines and we could go back to using Backlund/Frolik as a true shut-down line.

      • Derzie

        I’ll say it until he is gone: Chiasson is the worst player on the roster and needs to go. Now. He has hustle and has points from gifted minutes but that’s where the positives end. I know he’s a GG protege but enough is enough.

  • T&A4Flames

    Bennett ‘s play so far this year does benefit us in the new contract negotiations. I think he he took some heat from the coaching staff earlier in the year for taking some bad penalties and is now unsure of how to go about his game.

  • supra steve

    Tkachuk has been just awesome for the Flames thus far, that much is correct.

    But…all the self congratulating about his selection, and shaming of the Oilers and Canucks for having passed on him is already getting old.

    Anyone who passes their definitive judgement on any draft before the calendar year of that draft is even over, is just in a little too big a hurry for my liking. We’re still waiting to see exactly what we have in Jankowski, a 2012 selection, yet you all know already that Juolevi and Puljujärvi were horrible picks ahead of Tkachuk? Well you are obviously smarter than I am, but I’m playing wait and see on that one.

    That said, Peace on Earth, and Good Will to All. Merry Christmas, and be safe on the road, it’s awful out there.

  • Baalzamon

    Let’s not get too excited about this one. I mean don’t get me wrong it’s great to win, and convincingly, but Vancouver has easily the worst collection of forwards in the league (except MAYBE Arizona) and they were on the second night of a back-to-back to boot. The Flames SHOULD have run them over.

  • freethe flames

    My comments on Bennett should be in no way construed as I don’t like Bennett or don’t think he is going to be very good down the road but more of a I think there is more to get from him. I could imagine a line of Ferland/Bennett/Tkachuk(if he can really be RW) down the road. That would be a dynamic line that should drive possession, be sound defensively and create all sorts of O.

  • snotss

    great way to go into the break flames lots of hockey to still to play keep it up…the canukleheads are in deep trouble and falling fast and I love it…not to many stupid posts this year like other years…like I said I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!go flames